How Bad Is It to Miss a Credit Card Payment?
Your bill arrives. You make a mental note to pay it, but then something happens. You forget and now you’re past due.
Is that bad?
Well, it depends on how late your payment is and your credit history. For example, a late credit card payment could impact your credit score by 100-points-or-more if it reaches a 90 day delay.
The best way to prevent damage is to avoid missed payments in the first place. But when they happen, there are a few things you should know.
What happens if I miss a credit card payment?
A missed credit card payment can result in fees, increased interest rates, and a negative impact on your credit score. However, the impact varies on how many days your payment is past due.
When you miss a credit card payment, you usually have 30 days to pay before your creditor reports your late payment to the credit bureaus. This is called a "grace period," and missed payments which are subsequently made within the 30 day period typically won’t end up on your credit report.
On the other hand, if you don’t pay within the grace period, the slipup will probably be reported to a credit reporting agency and will likely have a negative impact on your credit score. Additionally, you may also incur a late fee. One missed payment can lower your credit score and may remain on your credit report for up to seven years.
How does missing a payment affect my credit score?
As mentioned, once a credit card payment is 30 days past due, the credit card company will usually notify the three major credit bureaus. At this point, the missed payment will appear on a credit report and potentially cause significant damage to a credit score. The damage worsens once a bill hits 60 or 90 days past due.
FICO, the company that provides the most widely used credit score, compared the effect of a late payment on two hypothetical consumers. In their test, Consumer A started off with a “fair” score of 607, while Consumer B started off with a “very good” score of 793. Here’s a summary of how their different credit profiles were impacted by a 30- and 90-day missed credit card payment.
|Current FICO Score 9
|Score After Missed Payment (30 Days)
|Score After Missed Payment (90 Days)
How long does a missed payment stay on a credit report?
In most cases, a missed credit card payment, also called a delinquency, will be removed from your credit report after seven years. Anyone who pulls your credit report before that date will have access to the delinquency information.
For example, if a 30-day late payment was reported in January 2023 and you returned the account to good standing in February 2023, this information will drop off from the credit report in January 2030. The same logic applies to consecutive missed payments.
What can I do if I miss a payment?
If you miss a credit card payment, take action immediately. Here’s what to do to minimize the negative effects of a missed payment on your credit score.
Pay the minimum amount
The sooner, the better. If your payment is within the 30-day grace period, you can usually avoid a negative impact on your credit report. Reporting entities inform the credit bureaus of payments not made by the next billing cycle. However, if it’s more than 30 days past due, you can prevent further negative impact by paying at least the minimum amount due as soon as possible.
Call your creditor
Call your credit card issuer immediately. If this is your first late payment, try to negotiate. There’s a chance that the issuer will understand and waive any late fees for a first offense. In fact, some issuers don’t charge a fee at all.
What if my payment is only one day late?
If a payment is only one day late, it likely won’t be reflected on your credit report. Late payments are reported to the credit bureaus after a full billing cycle, which is typically 30 days. Pay at least the minimum amount due and refrain from making your payments late.
What if I only miss one payment?
If you only miss one payment, the damage depends on how quickly you pay your late bill. Pay at least the minimum amount due to bring your account into good standing within the 30-day grace period. Failure to do so will result in the missed payment being reported to the credit bureaus. Going forward, it is important to refrain from making a pattern of missed credit card payments. Take proactive measures to prevent such occurrences.
How do I prevent a missed payment?
The best way to prevent a missed credit card payment is by being proactive. Here are a few actions to take.
Pay on time
Ensure you have sufficient funds in your account to cover your upcoming credit card bills. Create a monthly budget, including your debts, to anticipate each month’s expenses. It’s important to set limits on personal spending. If you’re short on funds, consider cutting any non-essential expenses.
Pay at least the minimum
If you’re in a difficult financial position, try to make at least the minimum payment due on your credit card. This will keep your account in good standing while you resolve your financial situation. Call your issuer to discuss relief options; they might offer a financial hardship program.
Enroll in autopay
Most credit card issuers offer an automated way to pay your bills: autopay. Enroll in automatic payments for recurring credit card bills. You can set up to pay the minimum amount due, the total statement balance, or a custom amount. This will ensure you will never accidentally forget to make a payment. Peace of mind is a few minutes away — it’s that easy to enroll.
Set reminders and notifications
Rely on calendar reminders to never forget a bill payment. Set up a reminder in your phone app or through your email calendar. Email and text alerts are other great options. Receive a notification when your statement is available to view and pay it immediately.
Change the due date
If you have multiple bills, the due dates likely fall on different days. It’s easier to lose track of multiple payment dates, so contact your credit card issuer to consolidate your payment due dates to a single day, ideally after you receive your paycheck.
Missing just one credit card payment can do lasting damage to your credit score. You should make every reasonable effort to prevent missed payments.
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